2015 Student Award winners.
2015 Student Poster Reception.

Younger members are the future of our profession, and the future of the natural areas we steward.

We believe the Natural Areas Association has a special responsibility to its youngest members – students and those just starting their careers.

We offer a number of programs specifically for younger members:

Students can join the Natural Areas Association for a special rate, and can register for the Natural Areas Conference for a special, all-inclusive fee. Find out more.

Find out more about our tradition of commitment to younger members and its connection to our history.

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Here’s what some of our younger members have to say about what the Natural Areas Association means to them:

Last year, I participated in the Natural Areas Conference 2015 thanks to the John W. Humke Student Scholarship. It was a great experience for me…because I made good connections, I participated in great talks from different areas. The Natural Areas Association help me find a way to be more passionate about the natural areas of Puerto Rico.
Jenniffer Paniagua, University of Puerto Rico

Being awarded both a travel grant and third place overall for my poster presentation by the NAA has been a source of great pride and confidence in my ability to effectively communicate my research. As a direct result of this, I have been successful in securing additional funding to present at another national conference within my field of study. I am passionate about the mission of the Natural Areas Association and I strongly believe that it has a lot to offer to student communities.
Angela Burke, Northern Illinois University

I loved every minute of being at the conference; it was immensely inspiring to be surrounded by so many like-minded people. The conference opened my eyes to the diversity of environmental career possibilities open to students like me.
Kim Elsenbroek, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

For me, as someone who is just getting their feet wet in the field, the feedback that I’ve received from presenting has been invaluable. I find the networking opportunities to be quite unique, with every meeting attendee that I’ve talked with being very approachable and friendly…After each meeting, I return to my lab reinvigorated and excited to get back to my work.
Lauren Diepenbrock, University of Missouri

A drip torch in action.
A drip torch in action.

Our programming for younger members supports them in professionalizing themselves, getting a job, and connecting them with experienced members. These activities are all oriented towards ensuring that members with established careers are able to pass on their knowledge to those just starting in the profession, and actively support them.

That exchange between our longstanding members and younger members is represented by passing the torch—specifically, the drip torch. A drip torch is a fuel canister with a wick, used in prescribed fire, wildfire suppression and other applications, and is an important tool for many natural areas managers.

While the drip torch is a symbol of our commitment to our younger members, every year during the Natural Areas Conference we pass a real torch during an activity we call Prairie Fire. This is an important part of the history of our organization, and brings together younger and older members in a good-natured partnership and competition.

2015 Student Award winners.
2015 Student Award winners.

The Natural Areas Association encourages as many students as possible to attend the conference. Students can network with conservation professionals, identify new career opportunities, share ideas with peers, present their work and win recognition for it. Most important, they can strengthen ties with a professional community that can support them throughout their careers. Conference benefits for students:

Conference programming is part of our larger tradition of supporting our student and younger members, which we call Passing the Drip Torch.

Conference programming for students:

  • Student-Mentor Networking lunch. Meet and make connections to members with experience in your field.
  • Keys to Conservation Careers. Employees from conservation organizations, including state and federal agencies, detail how to prepare for and launch a career as a natural areas professional.
  • Student Poster Session. Students have a chance to present their work during a celebratory networking event.

Get more information about student programming at our conferences.

2012 Natural Areas Conference field trip to Cypress Bridge Natural Area Preserve, Southampton Co., VA.
2012 Natural Areas Conference field trip to Cypress Bridge Natural Area Preserve, Southampton Co., VA.

We launched our Student Chapters program in October 2010 with the goal of providing students opportunities to network and resources to advance their careers.

NAA Student Chapters provide:

  • A forum for like-minded students to gather on campus
  • Opportunities to meet with students from other universities who are interested in natural areas
  • Hands-on education, training and career information relating to natural areas management
  • Early-career leadership opportunities as chapter officers

How to Form a Student Chapter

We are currently seeking to expand our Student Chapter program.
Formal chapters are entitled to support and benefits from the Natural Areas Association. Read through the resources below to see what’s involved in starting a Student Chapter.

To find out more, or to start the process of applying, please email students@naturalareas.org